With plenty of years left to go, LeBron James has stacked up an insane resume: three-time NBA champion, three-time Finals MVP, gone to six-straight finals, four-time regular season MVP, 12-time All-NBA, and the list goes on and on.
LeBron is also the first star of the social media era, which has led to a discussion of his legacy and place in the pantheon of the game since he was 23, long before anyone had any idea where he would land on that spectrum.
Doc Rivers has been coaching in the NBA through most of the LeBron era, and he has a thought where LeBron ranks — top five all-time. Above you can see the video, but written out here is what he told Dan Patrick on his radio show (which you can watch on the NBC Sports Network).
“Yes he is…
“Statistically speaking, and visually since I was the coach of the Celtics and we had a 3-2 lead and I watched him score 45, he is in the top five. There’s no doubt. LeBron has a different game. We’re so used to seeing skill looking graceful. We’re not used to seeing skill look so powerful. I think that rubs people wrong. But LeBron, statistically, championship wise, he’s one of the top-five players to ever play the game.”
LeBron’s third title — breaking the 52-year title drought in Cleveland — did more for his legacy in the mind of a lot of fans than his first titles did. And Patrick’s point on how we tend to see the heroes of our generation through rose-colored glasses is a valid one. Michael Jordan was seen as someone who couldn’t win the big game for years after he continually got thrashed by Detroit in the East, but we don’t think of him that way now. Players evolve, legacies evolve.
For me, it’s too early to rank where LeBron ends up, but without a doubt he goes down high on the list of all-time greats. No player had more physical skills, few took better advantage of them than LeBron has.